FindingJane

Ms. Ursu took her inspiration from Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen”. But other stories wind their subtle thread throughout this novel. Hazel is an adopted child, a girl of vivid imagination and a vast echoing loneliness. Ms. Ursu has given us a heroine of small stature, big heart and great insecurities. The language used to describe Hazel’s struggle is at times sparse, utterly plain spoken, the way you’d expect from a child. In other passages, Hazel’s descriptions of the world around her and her own inner thoughts contain an almost poetic sensibility. Hazel mutters how this fairy tale world makes no sense but she nevertheless tries desperately to impose order on it by thinking about the fairy tales she’s read throughout her life. Her battle to force order on chaos is an ironic and unspoken commentary on the attempts of the adults around her who would force her into growing up and becoming part of the real world. She’s just a girl and she despairs at her failure to live up to the archetypical mytical hero. She’s not particularly smart, witty, strong or clever. She doesn’t have magical items. So it’s up to her and her alone to defeat the villain and rescue her friend. But even that battle isn’t quite how she imagined it. Frost, ice and cold imagery runs rampant throughout this story. The metaphorical ice that freezes Hazel from within when Jack apparently abandons her is no less troubling than the actual snowstorms she wades through to rescue him. Ms. Ursu’s creativity doesn’t flag; her repetition of cold finds clever inventions that never grow stale. This is a fairy tale for the modern age, a source of wonder, threat, despair and unshakeable love. For all the Hazels of this world, for all those who feel they will never “fit”, this novel whispers that you persevere. At the heart of this novel of an impervious ice queen is a warm, beating heart.

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